Willem Breytenbach, the former teacher and journalist who is accused of sexual abuse by several men, will appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday on one charge of indecent assault and one of sexual assault.
More charges were expected to be added. Breytenbach was released on R50 000 bail on December 5.
In November last year, Johannesburg-based copywriter Deon Wiggett and News24 co-published a series of podcasts called My Only Story, in which Wiggett exposed Breytenbach as an alleged sexual predator. It ultimately led to his arrest on December 3 at his mother’s house in Reebok, a small town near Mossel Bay in the Southern Cape.
Since his arrest, more men who allege they were raped or sexually abused by Breytenbach, have come forward, bringing the total to 41.
Of these, 17 were younger than 16 when Breytenbach allegedly abused them, seven were younger than 18 and the youngest was 12 years old at the time of the alleged incident.
These alleged incidents happened between 1983 and 2019. Of these alleged victims, eight were pupils at Grey College in Bloemfontein and 11 at Hoërskool Langenhoven in Riversdale, where Breytenbach taught in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Seven, including Wiggett, came into contact with Breytenbach in their teens while participating in a school newspaper project Breytenbach organised when in the employ of Media24.
Nine others claimed Breytenbach, 55, abused them when they were his employees at Cape Town-based digital marketing firms Lumico and Lightspeed Digital Media from 2014 to 2019.
‘Please respect me’
Following the publication of the first podcast on November 7, in which Breytenbach was simply referred to as “Jimmy”, Breytenbach closed all his social media accounts and disabled his cellphone number.
Breytenbach asked most of his employees at his company, Lightspeed Digital Media, to resign and left his Cape Town house for Reebok.
News24 located him at this house on November 21.
“Please respect me. I respect you, but unfortunately, I can’t speak to you,” he said before closing the door.
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The following day, News24 reported that Breytenbach had attempted suicide on November 15 on a beach near Mossel Bay. He had taken a mixture of sleeping tablets and alcohol and was taken to hospital in a critical condition.
Magistrate Ronel Oliver granted Breytenbach bail with conditions, which included that he signed in at a police station three times a week, and remained in the Groot Brak River area. He also had to surrender his passport and may not have contact with any complainants.